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Opportunity at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

Advanced Structures and Materials for Space Power Generation

Location

Space Vehicles Directorate, RV/Space and Planetary Sciences

RO# Location
13.40.01.B6879 Kirtland Air Force Base, NM 871175776

Advisers

Name E-mail Phone
Wilt, David M. David.wilt@us.af.mil 505.846.2462

Description

On-orbit performance of spacecraft electrical power systems is critical to mission success. Coupled with the spacecraft demands for increased power, it is important to develop and investigate advanced technologies capable of meeting these mission requirements. Advances in power generation and energy storage technology are important to achieving improved on-orbit performance. The current state-of-the-art photovoltaic cells used for spacecraft power generation are based on the III-V material systems (e.g., GaAs, GaInP). However, innovative and novel material systems and new approaches for photovoltaic materials that are capable of more effectively utilizing the solar spectrum (in terms of required mass, volume, or area per unit power generated) could provide tremendous advantages for space missions. For example, nanotechnology (quantum well, quantum dot) applied to the current state-of-the-art III-V devices has the potential to provide significant performance improvement. Looking out further, new device paradigms, such as the intermediate band solar cell or hot carrier devices, will be required to surpass the performance limits of the current multijunction approach. Developing these technologies requires significant advances in material fabrication technologies, material, and device characterization tools as well as fundamental advancements in theoretical understanding to support and guide the experimental development. Regarding energy storage, new battery and ultracapacitor technologies are required to reach the specific energy (Wh/kg) and power densities (W/kg) while achieving cycle life requirements for future space missions. In addition, a significant challenge exists to develop the theoretical support to enable accelerated lifecycle testing of advanced energy storage technologies. This is especially important in understanding and predicting degradation mechanisms during charge and discharge. We expect to expand the understanding and advance power system component technology through innovative research endeavors, as well as to develop an overarching modeling strategy and to begin model development with the goal of an accurate, comprehensive, on-orbit performance model for a variety of advanced power system materials, devices and structures.

 

Keywords:
Photovoltaics; Materials; Space; Solar energy; Modeling; Power systems; Semiconductors;

Eligibility

Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants
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